Luke Donald moves into contention

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Luke Donald put himself firmly in contention as Bae Sang-moon and Fredrik Jacobson shared the lead at the halfway stage of the Northern Trust Open in California.

World No.3 Donald, playing his first tournament since November, produced a five-under 66 to sit seven under overall, two off the leading pair of South Korea’s Bae and Sweden’s Jacobson on nine under.

The Englishman, 18th overnight, carded seven birdies against two bogeys to end day two fifth. Hee could have been in a share of third alongside Americans John Merrick and John Rollins but for a dropped shot on his penultimate hole, the par-four eighth.

Donald told “Happy with my score, obviously coming off a pretty good break, you never know with how you’re going to deal with being back in competition again but certainly a big improvement today, ball striking wise and my short game has been very sharp.”

n Jiyai Shin of South Korea and 15-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko both shot rounds of three-under 70 yesterday to surge six shots clear on 17 under heading into the final day of the Women’s Australian Open. Scotland’s Catriona Matthew is tied for 35th on three under after a third-round 70. Carly Booth and Pamela Pretswell missed the cut.